EU raises stakes in mackerel ‘war’

European Union governments agreed rules on Tuesday that could see Icelandic fishermen barred from EU ports, as part of a row over mackerel fishing that threatens to derail Iceland’s bid to join the 27-nation bloc.

The European Union is incensed at Iceland’s decision to cash in on an explosion in mackerel stocks in its waters by massively increasing its quotas, in a dispute that has drawn comparisons to the “cod wars” of the 1950s and 1970s.

In a move aimed at putting pressure on Iceland, EU ministers approved a law that allows the bloc to limit or ban imports of all fish from “third countries engaged in unsustainable practices in the management of fish resources they share with the EU.”

“This instrument could allow us to tackle situations like the one which is currently threatening the stock of northeast Atlantic mackerel,” the EU Council of Ministers said in a statement.

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